A report into child abuse in children’s homes run by Irish Roman Catholic religious organisations found that sexual abuse was “endemic”, even though the Church knew about it.
The report of a government-appointed commission, published on Wednesday said children taken into care in the so-called industrial schools were subjected to “pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment.”
The findings, which have taken 10 years to compile, found that when evidence of abuse was discovered by the institutions it was “managed with a view to minimising the risk of public disclosure and consequent damage to the institution and the Congregation.”
It said the abuse ranged “from improper touching and fondling to rape with violence.”
A spokesman for one of the victims group said the report would not end their search for justice.
The report investigated institutions over a 10 year period from 1936 onwards, receiving testimony from more than 3,000 victims including those in schools for young offenders and institutions for children with disabilities run by the Christian Brothers and other Roman Catholic orders
The findings allege the Catholic Church was aware there were long term sex offenders in the orders running these organisations but it says “when confronted with evidence of sexual abuse, the response of the religious authorities was to transfer the offender to another location where in many instances he was free to abuse again.”
The inquiry, which is believed to have cost €70m, was launched in 1999 when Bertie Ahern, then the prime minister, apologised to victims following an RTE television documentary report.
Ms Justice Mary Laffoy who was appointed to chair the inquiry resigned in 2003 in protest at the lack of cooperation from the department of education, which from the early days of the state, had delegated the task of looking after these schools to the religious orders in order to save money.
Her replacement Mr Justice Sean Ryan said the commission no longer intended to name anyone responsible for abuse, other than those already convicted.
There were angry scenes at the launch of the report in a Dublin hotel when some victims were refused admission.